Learning to Love Local (and Sustainable): Reconsidering Where Our Seafood Comes From

Erica Chang ’18

Originally published in The Williams Record

We have a terrestrial bias at the College. Yes, we live in Williamstown, about 150 miles from the Atlantic, but we are inherently linked to the health and fate of the oceans. The oceans are one of the main climate regulators and its organisms contribute around 70 percent of our atmospheric oxygen. In this way, our well-being and our planet’s well-being are inextricably tied to the oceans’. Yet, we often neglect mentioning the oceans when discussing sustainability, especially regarding food.

We’ve come a long way with our food; students have spearheaded a 50-percent industrial beef reduction and a fair-trade banana implementation, and the campus celebrates local products and “150-mile” meals. But considering we spent nearly $200,000 on seafood during the 2016 fiscal year, talking about where our seafood is from and how it’s caught is an integral part of sustainability discussions.

“Today, over 90 percent of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, fully exploited, or have collapsed” (United Nations First Global Integrated Marine Assessment). We have managed to turn what was once considered an infinite, impossibly vast resource into one in danger of running out. Yet, it is often the species that have been decimated the most that we are intent on eating: cod, salmon and tuna, to name a few.

For more of Erica’s piece in The Record…